Author Topic: Letter to the leader of Herts CC  (Read 5397 times)

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Offline The Bald Eagle

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Letter to the leader of Herts CC
« on: 16 January, 2012, 07:02:03 PM »
I sent this earlier today and provided a copy to the local newspaper. It takes a bit of reading and I will have to put several more posts up containing the remainder of the attachments, but I hope you will agree that it puts the council in a very awkward position. Enjoy. ;D

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Dear Mr Gordon

I am writing to bring some matters to your attention regarding CCTV enforcement of the bus lane/gate at Moor End Road in Hemel Hempstead. As you probably know this has been the focus of a great deal of attention, not least because of the high levels of non compliance that still persist to date.

I have undertaken a study of this area and following confirmation from Stuart Pile (Executive Member for Highways and Transport) that advice had been sought by Hertfordshire County Council (HCC) from the Department for Transport (DfT) as to which signs and lines were appropriate, I sent a Freedom of Information (FoI) request to HCC asking for sight of all correspondence between them and the DfT. Having analysed this information I must now bring to your attention my concerns over the enforceability of every Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) that has been issued at Moor End Road since enforcement commenced in August 2011.

I attach copies of the relevant documents revealed to me pursuant to my FoI request. In particular I refer you to the email exchange between HCC's representative and the DfT on 9/11/10, 25/11/10 (x2), and 8/12/10. You may care to note that this exchange took place approximately 9 months before HCC began CCTV enforcement at Moor End Road.

In the email dated 9/11/10 there is reference to attachments. The attachments are two plans, both drawn up by HCC. It was these plans upon which HCC sought advice from the DfT.

I now quote directly from the DfT's advice with reference to the two plans which I have labelled plan 1 (P1) and plan 2 (P2) for the sake of convenience.

“Suitability of proposed signage and linage on Moor End road for bus lane enforcement – Generally okay but variant of marking 1048.4 should be “BUS AND TAXI ONLY” over 4 lines or “BUS & TAXI ONLY” over 3 lines.
I attach photographs (PH1 and PH2) of the current road markings which clearly show that the DfT's advice has been ignored and the wording now in place is as per P1.

I refer you to P1 and the proposals within same for the placement of the (non compliant) road markings. You will note that it was proposed that they be placed at both ends of the bus lane whereas PH1 and PH2 show the road markings more or less in the centre of each lane, next to the traffic island.

DfT advice: “No markings are allowed within the zig zags so the “BUS & TAXI ONLY” marking must be relocated. This presents a problem since it will be within the mini roundabout necessitating a rethink on the design”

HCC's further request for advice on where to position road markings on the westward carriageway: “The bus and taxis only markings that we are unable to place between the zig zags, can they be placed at the side of the centre island?”

DfT advice: “If by centre island you mean the mini roundabout island, then this location would not be suitable as it is unclear as to which exit road the marking will apply. If you meant the centre island at the mid point of Moor End Road, then this is equally unsuitable as it is too far down and would lead to trapped traffic. At this location, our view is that the upright signs be used without the marking.”

As you can see from PH1 the DfT's advice has been ignored and the markings appear half way down the bus lane, next to the island. I can attest to the fact that this does indeed lead to traffic becoming trapped per the DfT's warning. I have regularly seen motorists attempting to reverse out of the bus lane once they see the road markings, only to be forced to commit the offence because an authorised vehicle has followed them into the bus lane. Similarly, PH2 shows the markings half way along the eastbound carriageway, which causes a similar trap for motorists. Not only that but HCC have ignored their own plan, (approved by the DfT), in order to create an additional trap.

“Guidance on where to install the camera signage (i.e. sign 879 of trsdg) –Suggest that this is put on the post with the 619”

Please see PH3 which shows the signs currently in place. The sign is in fact a permitted variant of sign 878 of trsdg. It would therefore appear that HCC has misled the DfT on the signs they proposed using.

“Guidance on whether the wider ADS signs are suitable for the enforcement of the Moor end road – ADS are not regulatory and do not provide a means of enforcement. No entry signs (standalone or in ADS) must NOT be used with the exceptions shown. “Except buses” or “Except local buses” are the only permitted plates for use with diagram 616, no entry.”

I refer you to P2 which depicts the Advance Direction Signs (ADS) that were proposed for use by HCC. You will note that the proposed exception plate to the no entry sign (diagram 616 trsdg) states “Except buses, service vehicles and cycles”. The DfT's advice on this is unequivocal and is an imperative when it states that this is “NOT” to be used with the exceptions shown. I refer you to the photographs PH4, PH5 and PH6 which clearly show that the DfT's advice has been ignored, both in regard to the ADS signs and the standalone sign.

“The island in the middle of the road needs to be extended into the zig zags of the zebra crossing”

Please see PH7, PH13 and P1. It is clear that the centre island was never extended. In fact HCC seem to have taken ignoring DfT advice a step further by unilaterally deciding to paint a single solid white line along the offside of each carriageway, something that was not included on the original plans sent to the DfT.

“The triangular island on the other side of the zebra crossing also needs to be extended.”

Please see PH8 and P1. In this instance the DfT seem to be under the impression that “The triangular island on the other side of the zebra crossing...” is a raised island, when in fact it is merely a painted road marking. In any event, the “triangular island” was never extended as advised and remains a road marking that does nothing towards alerting drivers to the fact that they are about to enter a bus lane/gate.

I now refer you to the diagram 619 trsdg signs (commonly known as the flying motorbike signs – see PH9, PH10, PH11 and PH12) and exception plates that are proposed for use on P1. The DfT give tacit approval for their use, but do advise“Consideration could be given to positive signing, i.e. 953 as an alternative.” For your information diagram 953 trsdg is the bus lane sign that is employed to great effect on all other bus lanes in Hemel Hempstead, where compliance levels are far higher than at Moor End Road.

Please now see PH9, PH10, PH11 and PH12. Each of these photos shows the signs currently in use and in place either side of each end of the bus lane/gate. You will note that HCC have elected to put these signs on a yellow reflective background. This is not what was approved for use by the DfT. Also you may care to note that the exception plate contains the word “for”. This is not an approved variant within the trsdg and is certainly not what was approved for use by the DfT.

Given that HCC have failed in so many respects in relation to DfT guidance, I am of the opinion that armed with the evidence of this catalogue of failures, any motorist appealing a PCN to the Traffic Parking Tribunal (TPT) would have their appeal allowed.

The replies to my FoI request also revealed that HCC are only too aware of continuing high levels of non compliance. HCC have recently written to the DfT applying for special permission to use different signs. In his email to the DfT on behalf of HCC dated 10/11/11, Terry Curtis states “There is a very high level of non compliance and many members of the public are complaining that the signs are not easily understood.”

As a member of the NoToMob both myself and my colleagues have had reason to visit Moor End Road on numerous occasions since CCTV enforcement began, and we have helped thousands of motorists avoid getting fines for entering the bus lane/gate. In my own experience, there is to some extent an element of non compliance due to motorist's ignorance of what the current signs mean and Mr Curtis is correct in asserting this to the DfT. However, again through personal experience I would say that a large number of motorists, for various reasons, simply do not see the signs.

The NoToMob have had correspondence with a Mr. Steve Johnson who is the Head of Network Management at Hertfordshire Highways in which we invited him and some senior council officials to meet with us at the Moor End Road site, so that they could see for themselves the problems their current signs, lines, road markings and road layout were causing for drivers. Unfortunately, Mr Johnson refused our invitation, despite the fact that we were offering our time and experience free of charge and as part of Mr Cameron's “Big Society”.

Therefore may I extend this offer to you and/or your colleagues. I honestly believe that your enlightenment will lead to greater levels of compliance being achieved far more quickly than simply changing the signs as HCC currently propose. In my opinion the problems with this bus lane run to far more than just a problem with the type of signs that are used. That is something you can only understand by witnessing potential criminals who are about to commit an offence (as well as being the civil offence under which HCC issue PCNs, passing the “flying motorbike” signs is still a criminal offence which would normally attract a three point penalty on your licence).

Kindly acknowledge safe receipt of this email.

Yours sincerely
 
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX(senior coordinator with the NoToMob)
WE ARE WATCHING YOU

Offline The Bald Eagle

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Re: Letter to the leader of Herts CC
« Reply #1 on: 16 January, 2012, 07:03:21 PM »
More to follow
WE ARE WATCHING YOU

Offline The Bald Eagle

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Re: Letter to the leader of Herts CC
« Reply #2 on: 16 January, 2012, 07:04:25 PM »
More to follow.
WE ARE WATCHING YOU

Offline The Bald Eagle

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Re: Letter to the leader of Herts CC
« Reply #3 on: 16 January, 2012, 07:06:23 PM »
More to follow.
WE ARE WATCHING YOU

Offline The Bald Eagle

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Re: Letter to the leader of Herts CC
« Reply #4 on: 16 January, 2012, 07:07:43 PM »
And finally.
« Last Edit: 16 January, 2012, 07:10:09 PM by The Bald Eagle »
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Offline Ewan Hoosami

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Re: Letter to the leader of Herts CC
« Reply #5 on: 16 January, 2012, 07:25:46 PM »
Very nicely put together BE. That's every bit as good as Nigel's letters I've seen on here and explains the situation perfectly. Under the rules of legal enforcement and indeed common decency they have no option but to refund all penalty charges immediately. Whether this will be the case remains to be seen but I'm sure we're not done yet.

 :bashy:
Appealing to the council is like playing chess with a pigeon. You might be a chess grand master but the pigeon will always knock all the pieces over, shit on the board and then strut around triumphantly.

Offline Pat Pending

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Re: Letter to the leader of Herts CC
« Reply #6 on: 16 January, 2012, 07:30:30 PM »
Well done BE a good letter, :aplude: :aplude: :aplude:  I would have thrown a few Fecks in here and their but that's why I don't write too many letters. :-X
Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways - Beer in one hand - chocolate in the other - body thoroughly used up,  totally worn out and screaming "WOO-HOO, what a  ride!!"

Nigel W

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Re: Letter to the leader of Herts CC
« Reply #7 on: 16 January, 2012, 07:46:15 PM »
Very Good BE. That puts the cat amongst the pigeons. I await the response.

Offline Ewan Hoosami

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Re: Letter to the leader of Herts CC
« Reply #8 on: 16 January, 2012, 08:43:00 PM »
Well done BE a good letter, :aplude: :aplude: :aplude:  I would have thrown a few Fecks in here and their but that's why I don't write too many letters. :-X
Maybe you should start. The sensible well written ones are falling on deaf ears.

Nigel: "....in view of the irrefutable evidence submitted, it should be clear how your department has failed on many levels."
Weasel: "We believe we have acted correctly and have nothing further to add."

Pat Pending: "Do any of you feckers even know how to enforce traffic? I'll bet most of you were snorting lines before feckin' well painting 'em! Feckin' well pack it in. NOW!
Weasel: "The authority thanks you for bringing this matter to it's attention and will remedy the situation immediately. If only you'd have mentioned it sooner."

 dr00L
Appealing to the council is like playing chess with a pigeon. You might be a chess grand master but the pigeon will always knock all the pieces over, shit on the board and then strut around triumphantly.

Offline Pat Pending

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Re: Letter to the leader of Herts CC
« Reply #9 on: 16 January, 2012, 08:53:56 PM »
Pat Pending: "Do any of you feckers even know how to enforce traffic? I'll bet most of you were snorting lines before feckin' well painting 'em! Feckin' well pack it in. NOW!

Ewan you have just passed the interview to be my PA! :dancing: :dancing: :dancing:
Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways - Beer in one hand - chocolate in the other - body thoroughly used up,  totally worn out and screaming "WOO-HOO, what a  ride!!"

Offline jonesy

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Re: Letter to the leader of Herts CC
« Reply #10 on: 16 January, 2012, 11:25:34 PM »
Tremendous work BE looks like some one is going to be  Steeeeeved

Offline Kill Switch

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Re: Letter to the leader of Herts CC
« Reply #11 on: 16 January, 2012, 11:37:58 PM »
You write a letter nearly as good as Mrs Eagle bakes cakes  :dancing:

Well done mate, keep at em
A word to the wise ain't necessary - it's the stupid ones that need the advice